The happenings of the past days have hit home in a very personal way.
I am the mom of two black children and two black grandchildren.
Unlike some people who will tell you, “I don’t see color,” I will tell you I see color very clearly. It is a reality of our society.
What I will tell you is this, the color of a person’s skin never mattered to me.
My oldest brother had down syndrome. That is when an individual get’s an extra set of chromosomes at conception. They look different and face challenges based on the severity of their disability.
I have written before on my blog, my greatest life lesson came through my brother about treating people who are different than me with kindness and not differently.
Through a series of events in my life, I was placed in situations that exposed me to people of all ethnicities. As a young person, I didn’t judge people. I was raised up to that point, without any pre-disposed attitudes about different cultures in my home.
No one told me until my teenage dating years that “races” don’t mix. That for a “good” white girl, I should no longer be hanging around a certain “color” of friends that I had been best friends with since I was young.
I learned what a racist was. I learned what it was like to be labeled a lover of a person of color. I learned what it was like to be shamed for my beliefs.
At that point, even as a young person, I understood people are people no matter what color they are. What mattered was their intent on your well being.
I gave birth to two children. I understood that because they were of mixed race, that came with great responsibility. It was important to expose them to both of their cultures but especially their black heritage. As well as, teach them about and keeping them connected with positive black role models.
As we are seeing in the media recently, despite that mix of white in their blood, they are seen as black to society. For many years, what is called the “One-drop rule,” has been the legal definition of black for taking the census. And that is to have one drop of black blood.
I had a rather unique situation with my children and grandchildren. They were born with light brown skin and soft curls. Their racial mix was not always obvious.
So unless they are with their dad, or family, most do not connect their ethnicity right away. There was nevertheless, the need to prepare them for challenges because of their race with friends, school, work place and any given situation as it presented itself.
I am active in both of my grandchildren’s lives. I try in my own way to keep them connected to their backgrounds. My granddaughter is still very young and I will begin buying her books about girls who look like her, and successful black women. She is blessed to have my daughter and an aunt as role models.
My grandson, who will be 18, and I have had many conversations about the fact he is black. We talk about his lineage through his dad, his amazing black history, and now I will start talking to him about how important this moment in history is for him to acknowledge.
He recently has been driving around with his friends. We had a conversation about what to do if the police stopped them. I will not have him caught unaware.
My children were raised to see color. They were raised to acknowledge the reality of the how’s and why’s society acclimates each race. They know their history and proudly embrace who they are as individuals. They sadly have each experienced racial discrimination first-hand.
They both have family and friends of all races, religions, and sexual identities. They are open-minded, caring, individuals.
As a mother, in this political and racial environment, I could not hope for more. Yet, I worry about my babies every single day. There is not a day I do not begin and end it with prayers for their safety and blessings of wisdom.
I would be foolish to be ignorant to not acknowledge the challenges they face every step they walk into their day. To not believe that is the definition of privilege.
Two interesting life lessons I have embraced is that through my life I haven’t always made good choices. Some would like to blame it on the company I kept. Marilyn Monroe was quoted as saying “And never have regrets. Because at one point everything you did was exactly what you wanted.” In reality, I have learned to take responsibility and be accountable for my choices in my life.
Second, interestingly, as a white woman, I have remained white — I mean that in terms of how I talk, my lexicon, my individuality — I have witnessed some people try to become immersed in a culture that is not theirs. I have always functioned within my culture, as I am accepted.
We are witnessing a concerning moment in history. A time that easily could become a second Civil Rights movement in our country. The Civil Rights page has disappeared from the White House website. A movement is consuming our country that has given permission to express hatred of people who are different than others.
I don’t have all the answers. This I do know. I am one individual who can make my choice positive ones. I, as an American, have one vote to change who is in charge of our government. That is a start.
Today I am thankful
- Praying for the people of Barcelona as the images come across our televisions. God bless them and comfort them.
- I am so excited for this weekend. I value time with family and friends.
- I am grateful for my sea salt. Silly, I know. It makes me feel better with the concept.
- I am hoping for a painting nite in my near future. The Picasso in me is getting antsy. Oh, Pam!
My views haven’t changed. People are people. What I look at is the intent.
affectionately yours, Laura